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TAMERLANE                       203
upon the summit of the mound, they recognized whom
they had to deal with, and Shah Kutb-u-din, the Prince
of Sistan, despatched to my presence Shah-i-Shahan and
Taj-u-din Sistani, who were the chief of all his leaders."
Tate,1 who has made a plan of Zahidan, as the ruins
are now termed, shows a mound close to the south angle
of the walls, and there is little doubt it was from here
that the Great Conqueror examined the city.
Meanwhile the Sistanis, unaware of the hidden force
and careless of the safety of their deputation, swarmed
out of the city and advanced to the attack. The usual
ruse of a feigned retreat and a surprise by the hidden
troops drove the undisciplined peasantry back to their
walls with heavy loss, but they had fought bravely and
killed many of the enemy, whose horses they stabbed with
their knives.
Undismayed, the Sistanis next attempted a night attack,
which at first caused some confusion,, but the disciplined
troops rallied and inflicted terrible losses on the enemy.
The city was then assaulted by the entire army, and its
ruler, realizing that he could not hope to resist for very
long, resolved to surrender. During the course of the
negotiations Tamerlane set off with a small escort to visit
one of his divisions. Again the Sistanis assailed him, climb-
ing down from their battlements. This act of hostility
provoked Tamerlane to order a fresh assault, and the
city was taken. Its garrison was put to the sword, and
its population was massacred. Its great area is now so
desolate and lifeless that when I visited it the wonderful
lines of Isaiah2 came to my mind :  " An habitation of
dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the
desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island,
and the satyr shall cry to his fellow.1*
The Campaign in Northern Persia, A.H. 786 (1384).
In the year following the conquest of Sistan and the
consolidation of his power in Khorasan, Tamerlane under-
took what may be regarded as the first of his distant
campaigns. Hitherto he had been operating in districts
1  Sistan, Parts I. to III. p. 55.   This useful work is by G. P. Tate of the Survey
Department of the Government of India.
2  Chap, xxxiv. 13, 14.